Exploded 10mm Nighthawk 1911

My friend Greg sent this to me. His friend had a Nighthawk 1911 chambered in 10mm. He said it was the most accurate handgun he has ever shot. Until it exploded.


From what my friend Greg was told, his friend was using off the shelf Armscor 10mm ammo.

1911s don’t explode as easily as polymer framed pistols. However this one was spectacular.

IMG_2306 IMG_2307 IMG_2308

If you look at the picture at the top, you can see the chamber is split. I am not sure how that caused the slide to split down the middle, top and bottom. Then look at the damage to the dust cover of the frame.

When I saw these pictures the first thought in my mind was “Is the shooter ok?”. Greg assuaged my concerns and told me his friend received no harm from this accident. I think that is something remarkable about this Nighthawk 1911. It received this much damage from the 10mm round but the shooter was ok. Not sure if it was luck or due to the high quality that Nighthawk is known for.  Unfortunately the shooter was unable to find any remnants of the round that detonated.

Nighthawk has never seen anything like this before and are building the owner a new gun as I post this.

Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


  • Kyle

    That is freaky as hell. Are they building him a new pistol because he ordered another or to replace the damaged one? If it is the latter then that is really freaking nice of them.

    • Jwedel1231

      It’s the latter. Nighthawk Customs actually commented on this article (probably after you, not insulting) and gave a more detailed explanation.

  • Jack Morris

    I can only imagine the gut wrenching feeling of looking down at your Nighthawk 1911 split in half. I would be looking strongly at Armscore for reimbursement.

    • Vitsaus

      Good luck with that.

      • Kivaari

        I’ve seen barrels from “premium makers” that had little to no rifling. If a company sells “match grade” barrels of such poor quality and obviously no quality control, could be selling barrels with weak spots. I recommend not buying stainless steel guns, as the materials are normally inferior to carbon steel.

        • Scott Esse


          • Hold on there that’s my department. I don’t ban readers for being wrong on an assertion they make.

          • Kivaari

            Did it hit you too hard? Are you a “premium barrel maker” that ships junk without proper rifling? Tell, my how guns get proof marks on them when they don’t even have a chambers? Like Navy Arms. Or Weahterbey Mk Vs with no chamber and a “certified test target”. Where the factory rep admitted that they used the same .300 rifle to shoot 100 targets at a time to save money. With even junk guns like NEF being approved for shipping when there is no rifling. Where ever gun I checked had excessive firing pin length so primers were holed and spit gasses. Where upon opening the new gun and you find a used junker instead. Where Interamrs did a deluxe high polish Virginian where all the lettering was wiped (smeared) by an amateur on a buffing wheel. Where new Charter Arms “ported” .357 revolvers had never ben tested at the factory before shipping. Where with 2 shots the barrel sleeve cracked and fell off. This stuff happens all the time. Gun makers ca get cheap and lazy. If you had been in the business you would have come across such embarrassing mistakes being sold to we users.

          • Nigel Tolley

            There’s a huge difference in what you two are arguing.
            The blanket statement of “stainless is cheaper” is blatently wrong. 314 stainless is around 2.5 to 3x more in sheet form than mild steel.
            However… we aren’t talking about mild steel here. Premium high end tool steels and high yields are far more expensive.

            Carbide tooling means machining costs aren’t that vastly different, these days, but that’s an entire book or three, not a blog post. Generally stainless is harder to work with though.

            Where stainless saves you money is in the finishing. No expensive and risky* chrome plate, you can just polish or bead blast and that’s good to go.

            *Never had a poor finish from your polisher/plater? Lucky you. Never had an issue with chromed parts galling or otherwise failing? Not sure I can believe that!

            Yes, people cut corners and reduce material costs, but if you buy 314 stainless, & don’t get 314, then that’s the supplier, not the manufacturer. Same as any other thing you buy, if the supplier lies then they are to blame if the things later fail.
            However, even the best materials will fail if your design is poor. It’ll just mean it fails far sooner than it should, and if you combine that with poor materials, it’ll fail pretty much immediately.

            Making stuff is hard. Making stuff well is an art form.

          • Kivaari

            You missed the comment about there being stainless and there being stainless. There certainly are higher grades of stainless.. as well ass steels and aluminum. Raw materials are just one aspect of the price. If a material can be cast and require fewer machining operations, that is less costly. Is that not true? If a gun maker doesn’t use proper alloys they can build a cheap short lived gun. I.E. the AMT brand. Look at Ruger’s cast stainless steel, where they obviously use higher quality alloys. They also mix alloys to limit the issue with premature wear. Rugers are CRUDE but they represent a good value. Limited machine time is needed to finish the castings. If it had been a company like AMT, they would have used lesser grade materials. Like Detonics, they used higher cost alloys. Woodcock said they were not going to make carbon steel guns (this was over 39 years ago) because the added man hours needed offset the cost of SS. So the raw materials did cost more. But the labor saving, like at Ruger, made the project more cost effective.
            It funny how you focus on a particular alloy when I mentioned no particular alloy. I said there is SS and then there is SS. Just like making AR15s out of lesser grade aluminum. It is getting done and we see poor quality rifles and accessories. Why would Tasco or Bushnell sell scope rings for $6 while the DNZ rings are $99? Well, the allows costs more. The anodizing process done properly costs more, and the end product is superior. Some people are happy with $6 rings. I’ll spend $200 to get quality. That pretty much sums up what I’ve been saying. You get what you pay for. To save money our agency bought AMT M1911s and the guns self destructed. Changing parts to Colt parts gave them a little more life. Buying Colt Government Models showed that even with a Colt label, the pistols could not stand up to serious us. Contrary to popular belief, Colt M1911s are no trouble free. Next it was SIG P220, then Glock M21s and all gave problems. Finally Glock 17 and 19 pistols worked, and worked well. The only reason to change was a fasciation with the .40 caliber guns, and it did not bring an improvement.

        • Scott Esse

          No you havent. the closest you ever came to a gun were the ones Castro’s guards pointed at you

    • Sulaco

      Looking at the gun some time (maybe a long time) after checking your self for holes the creator did not put there…

    • Scott Esse

      Ive seen Remington and Winchester factory ammo squibs as well. BUT the bottom line is the shooter had to feed and fire the next round after minimal recoil (recoil hits when the projo EXITS the barrel, the squib created a blockage in the barrel)

  • Wudz Pogi

    you cannot fault the ammo as the barrel didn’t suffer the same as the frame. it’s the quality of the materials used. nighthawk’s fault.

  • PeterK

    Glad he’s safe. Looks like material failure? Was the load extra hot? I’d think they’dve noticed an extra loud bang from that.

    • Kivaari

      Well, if a part breaks, it can be laid to material failure..

  • I’m going to guess overpressure ammunition combined with sulfur stringers in the stainless barrel.


    • I never knew why people through a stainless barrel is a good idea, chromoly is a better material for rupture and creep resistance.

      • Evaris

        Yeah… better yet, a QPQ treated crome-moly-vandium 4150. But… yeah.

    • Ambassador Vader

      Over pressure form an off the shelf cartridge isn’t unheard of, as well as sulfur stringers, but i would have imaged more barrel expansion, and from the pictures there appears to be little if any. the slide and frame tear mean flaws in both is improbable. What about over pressure and barrel link failure to make the barrel link act as a wedge shearing both slide and frame?

      • It is my understanding that lengthwise splitting is a common failure mode with overpressure rounds and 416 Stainless barrels.


        • Kivaari

          Do you remember the catastrophic self destruction of Tikka T3 all stainless rifles? They went to pieces, making this pistol look like a minor surface scratch.

        • Ambassador Vader

          Not disagreement with 416 stainless splitting, from the pictures it would have to be a very slim fracture, but the barrel bulging out would split the receiver like that. maybe just a bad picture angle.

      • Nigel Tolley

        Remember folks, always have a designed in weak point that allows a “safe” failure. Nature, as they say, will find a way. If you think it’ll never fail, you’re wrong. If it fails into someone’s face and kills them… well, you failed in your first job as a designer.

    • Scott Esse

      it was a blocked barrel due to a squib

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Wow! The amount of pressure inserted into the slide must have been exceptional. I would love to know what the root cause was.

  • TheNotoriousIUD


  • Artfulspook

    By the looks of the surface of the cracks, it was a fast, brittle fracture. This kind of fracture usually tells of either long-period material fatigue cycles, which is a distinct possibility if the muzzle end of the frame has been under fluctuating stresses, or release of internal stresses present in the material from fitting or manufacture. Of course, there’s always the possibility of both acting in conjunction!

    • Kivaari

      Cast steel parts having alloy contents making cast iron easy to work with. It just makes for lower quality but higher priced guns. People spend more money on stainless because of the false perception it is better. Cheaper doesn’t translate to less expensive.

      • Jwedel1231

        I had to read your comment twice to fully understand what you said, and I agree.

        • Kivaari

          It can be confusing. I distrust many cast parts used in modern firearms. Some guns have obvious weak points built in when cast. Like bolts of Ruger Mini-14s. SA M1A receivers don’t seem to be as tough as forged M14 receivers. Lost wax casting can produce excellent gun parts. I’ rather see a better alloy cast and then forged.
          I only onw one stainless steel handgun, and it is rarely shot. The stainless costs less to produce, but in a gun designed to be pocket carried, has a worthwhile benefit. It wont rust as easily as a blued steel gun. The stainless guns wear out faster.

          • John Marshall

            while stainless steel does have different properties as opposed to cast iron or carbon steel, I promise you that stainless is not cheaper. The nickel and molybdenum that goes into stainless make it much more expensive than normal iron or even some of the high carbon steels.

          • Kivaari

            There’s stainless and there’s stainless. Most to cost of raw materials goes into the production of firearms. As you likely know, building a carbon steel pistol from castings can cost more than doing the same thing with SS. With carbon steels if a pocket-defect is detected the cavity needs to be filled by welding. Than, the component (frame or slide) needs to be re-heat treated. A more costly procedure compared to a similar component made from SS. The SS part can be welded, then ground and polished, bead blasted and its ready to return to the assembly line. There are different SS compounds used like Ruger does. They use up to 7 alloys to limit the “smearing” of part to part, avoids stretching, and resists rust. 30 years ago the poor quality AMT Hardballer M1911s cost about $85 to make. They had everything that can go wrong with SS went wrong with AMT guns. Detonics pistol of the same era cost about $125 to make, using higher grade SS. Even so I saw parts of slides and frames simply depart company. But, with the AMTs we saw, dramatic rusting, slides bending after a few hundred rounds and all the internal parts self destructing. Junk. Ruger and S&W we know uses a better grades of SS, IIRC both bought it from Colt Industries. That was 30 years ago, so markets may have changed. I would expect the SS used by SIG and S&W to outlast an AMT. I would expect it to cost more as well. Like the difference between an AMT and Detonics. The larger AMT used more steel. But it’s like making a piece of jewelry from gold or zinc. The properly alloyed gold item will be more costly. Make a gun from zinc and you get junk. Use proper steel and it costs ore.

          • Wynter

            Having spent many, many years in the manufacturing and quality control of both standard steel and precision metals industry I can say that I’ve never seen companies receive defective steel parts and then try to fix them by welding, or any other method, to move on to the next process. I’ve never worked in a firearms manufacturing company but I seriously doubt they would implement such crude procedures either, especially considering the nature of that particular product. A steel part, regardless of the steel used, that had manufacturing errors or metallurgical issues would be inspected, logged and then scrapped for recycling. No welding to fill holes, gaps or anything of the kind. I’m surprised that anyone would think that kind of thing happens with modern manufacturing of critical steel parts.

          • Kivaari

            You also missed the opening sentence that says “There’s stainless and there’s stainless”. Some gun makers have used inferior metals to produce guns that sold for more, even though the cost to produce the SS gun was less than the carbon steel item. If you think all gun builders are honorable people with the best wishes going to their customers, you haven’t been around long. Perhaps that is why Detonics has failed so many times. Maybe it is why AMT is no more. Why Charter Arms has floundered over and over again. Why Marlin went from a respected old-line gun maker into junk status. Why Colt is in an out of bankruptcy so often. Why gun make it to market sell a few hundred and are never seen again. Why S&W had the 22A series of pot metal .22s that were rejected by the public and the gun stores. There is a lot more to the gun business than building a gun from junk metals or using first rate materials with improper heat treating.

          • Kivaari

            Think out side the cost of the raw material. Think total effort and how picking the right alloy can limit the man-hours it takes to create a finished product. I’d typically buy a carbon steel gun, especially revolvers, instead of SS. Today you can get a tough Ruger having terrible trigger pulls and weighing 150% of a S&W. If you like clubs, so it. I do now that in the early days of SS S&W revolvers they wore out very fast. Total deformation of critical parts. It is why within a few years S&W replaced fire control parts with carbon steel that had been plated to look like SS. Been there and done that.

          • Scott Esse

            WHOA back up!!! Stainless is much more expensive to produce, first off the casting process for stainless is much more critical and as such can not be as accurate, due to the higher working temperatures required with stainless, which results in more machining of the harder metal, As such Stainless is almost exclusively FORGED, a much more expensive but more accurate process which produces harder and better parts. Your idea that cast is better is the complete opposite of fact. cast parts are cheap and prone to poor strength overall. Forging parts increased the metals strength by aligning the grain structure of the metal. No matter which process is used stainless is ALWAYS more expensive to produce due to the need for extra work that is required due to the hardness of the metal.

          • Kivaari

            Tell that to Ruger, the mass user of investment casting in gun making using stainless steel. Tell that to the people that made AMT.

      • Scott Esse

        And YOU just shut up you do not know anything of which you speak

    • Scott Esse

      read the post by Nighthawk it was an obstructed barrel due to a squib load

  • Kivaari

    I’ve seen several 1911s split apart, but never like this. Most fail at the bottom of the chamber and are due to over loaded hand loads. That is understandable, this isn’t.

    • Scott Esse


  • Fruitbat44

    And this children is why you wear eye protection while shooting . . .

  • Gregory

    Wow, I am amazed at how many people here are such experts on metallurgy, not!

    • Scott Esse

      he is 12 years old and from Cuba

  • iksnilol

    Eh, some TIG welds and a new barrel and it should work just fine.

    Trust me on this one… Or not, might be safer to do the latter.

    • TVOrZ6dw

      Most of that will buff out anyways.

      • mbrd

        yeah, but it’s gonna take a lot of compound…

    • Tom Forrest

      JB Weld would work just as well 😉

      • iksnilol


        But you seem like a certificed gunsmith so I’ll trust you.

        • Twilight sparkle

          Who isn’t a certified wecsog gunsmith these days?

          • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            My male Great Dane isn’t but my wife’s is

        • n0truscotsman

          As long as he has a dremel tool, he’s ‘gunsmith’ enough

          • iksnilol

            I’m a retro gunsmith then, since I don’t have a Dremel. Though I do have a hacksaw.

          • Kivaari

            Manual or electric?

          • iksnilol


            I don’t trust them newfangled electronic thingamajigs.

      • randomswede

        JB Weld is overkill for a superglue job but if you are going to be fancy about it they have duct tape in many colors these days, for color coordinating.

      • Scott Esse

        full length porting at its finest!

    • Edeco

      Im thinkin’ lemme try to braze that thing back together, put a ring in the chamber to make it run 40, add punisher skull grips…

      • Kivaari

        I worked for a gunsmith that would have done that. Then we had another one that used arch welders to built up barrel hoods on 1911 tune-ups.

  • Tr Graham

    Old Gunsmith’s have a saying, EBE….”everything breaks eventually”. It can happen to any gun. BTW – “1911s don’t explode as easily as polymer framed pistols”…..? Uh-huh. Refer to my statement above.

    • iksnilol

      Well, the gun wasn’t in pieces. Polymer and aluminum usually goes more kabloey and splintery.

      • Kivaari

        I haven’t seen enough aluminum framed guns fail. I think I can count on one finger the one I saw cracked. Then a couple exposed to weather that simply turned white and crumbled.

        • iksnilol

          From pics I’ve seen the plastic goes in more pieces (ref: pretty much any Glock kaboom).

          Though kabooms in general are a rare occurence that most people will never see in their lives.

          • Kivaari

            I haven’t seen many kabooms in 60 years. The one Glock that did so while I was present, had a double charge. It ejected the magazine and stun the shooters hand. After changing magazine the gun was used to finish the qualification. A cracked frame was found, and we bought a new frame for $75.
            More 1911s have been broken beyond repair.

          • iksnilol

            Don’t forget revolvers, those cylinders just go to pieces.

          • Kivaari

            Top straps often simply go into orbit.

          • Sianmink

            I saw a Colt Trooper MkIII whose top strap exited the roof of the building when it KB!’d. The top strap was never found.

          • iksnilol

            Rumor has it that that caused the space shuttle delay.

          • jng1226

            When I first started reloading around 1992, I double-charged a .40 S&W and blew up a new Glock 22 I had at the time. It was similar to what you described, with the rear case of the round rupturing and the force of the explosion blowing out the bottom of the magazine and spring, baseplate and unfired rounds being ejected downward. It did stun my hand, leaving my ring and pinky fingers numb and stinging – at first I thought I lost them too. The barrel hood bulged and so did the slide in front of it, but the gun would no longer cycle. As if I was going to put another round through it, ha! The frame seemed intact, but I never used it again. Learned a strong lesson that day and have loaded hundreds of thousands of rounds since with a ton of respect for the process.

      • Bill

        It’s an over-simplification, but in my experience metal guns and parts fracture as opposed to fragmenting.

        • iksnilol

          That’s what I’ve seen as well. That’s also the reason some people disparagingly call stuff made out of aluminium as being made out of “explodium”.

    • Kivaari

      Original shaped 1911 barrels fail more often than others. The exposed portion of the barrel, when subjected to excessive pressure. I’ve only seen a couple Glocks fail from over-loads, but they kept on working. I’ve seen a few more 1911s swell and not only the barrel is ruined by the slide and frame are really screwed up. Poly frames stretch and then retract.

  • Nighthawk Custom

    Thankfully the shooter was not harmed in this incident. NHC owner, Mark Stone, myself, and one of our gunsmiths spoke to this customer yesterday evening after receiving the pistol in for inspection and he explained what all had happened. We’ve never seen anything like this in the 12 years we’ve been in business. We assured the customer that we would be taking care of him and we will be replacing the pistol with a new one at no charge to him.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      Out of curiosity, are you guys going to do a full inspection and investigation to find out what, exactly, happened and whether or not it was bad ammo, bad metal, some combination of the above, or something else?

      You make enough product, no matter how well, and you’re going to have a failure. Unfortunately that’s a fact of manufacturing. But I’d LOVE to see a follow-up post with your findings and what might have been done to mitigate this, if that was even possible in this case.

      Thanks guys! You make some amazing guns.

      • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        I would love to know what happened. The last time I saw some blow like this was a handmade that switched from loading 38 Spec [Bullseye powder] to 3006 [IMR powder] but forgot to empty out the RCBS powder measure, thereby filling a 30-06 case with Bullseye. The LGS mounted the Pre64 M70 on a sheet of Plywood as a display of what not to do to a nice rifle .
        And as remarkable as this guy, outside of a severe bruised shoulder, he was unharmed.

    • Nicholas C

      Excellent news!!! Fantastic customer service!!

    • Nicks87

      Now that’s customer service!

    • Kyle

      Damn, that is some amazing customer service right there.

      • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        World class

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Good work on the quick response.
      I hope you guys do this with every customer not just the ones that make it to the blogs.

      • Mark

        Check out the video on their $3,499 Nighthawk Mongoose .357 Magnum revolver. For an extra $1,000 you can buy a timed 9mm cylinder that uses no moon clips. Unfortunately, right after claiming how reliable the ejector is, the ejector stuck and the salesman had to manually reset the ejector. Bad luck for that timing. It kind of reminds me of the salesman who continued to pitch a new DeLorean to me while we were waiting for the firetruck because it caught fire during my test drive. http://www.handgunsmag.com/nra-show/first-look-nighthawkkorth-revolver-series/

    • CavScout

      If it’s not your fault… then DON’T replace it. People think ‘replacing anything free of charge, no matter what or why’ is an ‘entitlement’ type disease in this country. I don’t want to have to pay an extra $200+ for a scope or gun just because the maker wants to cover their products in house fires and the like. That, and stops people from ever taking responsibility. Already looking at comments here, we’re all in a sick regression.

      • Nicholas C

        I don’t think anyone demanded they replace it. The information about the failure was vague. Nighthawk decided to step up and stand behind their product. This will be a fantastic example of excellent customer service and the exposure of them doing so will only help them more.

        • Stephen Paraski

          Any word on those castings? Although I see Barrel Chamber has also split at 12 O’Clock position.

      • Twilight sparkle

        Umm do you know how much their pistols cost?

        • Sig_Sauer

          in the area of $3200

      • LaminarFlow

        Then choose a product that doesnt provide that sort of service and it will be cheaper and you get what you want. Easy. Thats why there are both types of companies and we have choices. If that service isnt worth it to you then dont pay it, chose a product more in line with your budget and values.

      • Jim C

        In this case, replacing the unit is good business sense. Nighthawk is more than a gun manufacturer; when you lay down the required price, you want assurances that you have a weapon that is among the finest available anywhere. If one with that expectation blows up, and is not backed, the company’s reputation is at stake. I would shy away from a manufacturer that would not stand behind their workmanship.
        If it was clearly abused, that’s a different thing, but their reputation IS their company’s life blood; it must be jealousy protected if they want to command premium prices.
        I commend them for their decision.

        • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

          Well said sir

        • Sig_Sauer

          I buy SIG Sauer and they have a fantastic customer service program. I had one of their 1911’s Tacops and every round landed on the top of my head, called SIG and explained the problem and had it back with in a week.

      • Blue Centurion

        Boy, would I like to sell you something…..

      • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        It’s called brand defense and customer service. It is accounted for under a line item called warranty repair . If you don’t like it, don’t buy their stuff. If it was my product, I’d want to know the why of it

      • Rnasser Rnasser

        I would love to get a metallurgical analysis on that pistol. Seems too brittle.

        • Sig_Sauer

          Good point. Next question, how many others have been sold with the same defect?

    • LaminarFlow

      That is great. I really like to hear that NHC is taking care of him instead of blaming the ammo or otherwise not helping him (even though it may well could have been the ammo and truly morally NOT be NHCs responsibility!) But he is still being taken care of. This case certainly will factor into my decision when i finally get my first high end 1911! Bravo.

    • lol

      It happens, unfortunately. sometimes an Ammo manufacturer slips up and overcharges a case.

      With 10mm, it has a usuable case volume of 17.3 Gr, and typical loadings run from 8-10 grains, so alot of room for more powder to cause a boom.

      If that was the case, I am mighty impressed the slide contained it all and held together as well as it did. 10mm is a high enough pressure round as it is.

      • Randy Rabinowitch

        No, its hard to fit 10 grains of powder in a 10 or 40….6,4 grains of HS6 works great. 45 ACP only uses 8 grains of powder. Not sure where you are getting your load data????

        • Christopher Williams

          I regularly shoot 10mm reloads with
          Hornady 155 gr. Xtp bullet
          10.0 gr. Alliant power pistol
          And this is just mild to what can be done.

        • Kivaari

          Case capacity is measured in how many grains of water will fit in the case. So the volume mentioned is correct. Most pistol powders are very light weight, and the bullet takes up space that is not discounted when the water-weight examination is made.

          • cageordie

            The volume is correct with a 135gr round, but 180gr lowers that to 14.1, both with Winchester cases.

        • Marty-jessica Watlington

          I agree with u. Don’t know where data comes from. I load 10gns blue dot and fill case pretty good

      • cageordie

        Winchester cases with a 135gr bullets can take 17.3gr of water, but with the standard 180gr bullet the capacity is 14.1gr. So it depends what you are shooting. One example: 10.6gr of IMR Hi-Skor 800X gives 1382fps and 763ft.lbs. Case capacity is measured in water weight but the powder isn’t as dense. Could this have been a squib load that burned a lot faster than expected? I have fired thousands and thousands of near maximum loads from my G20 and never had an issue. You really aren’t likely to manage to cram more powder in than my loads. But 10mm don’t generally use the fastest burning powders, a fast powder might have caused much higher pressure too. All just speculation, I will be interested to hear what the pistol manufacturers say.

    • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      Gentleman, Your high quality is why I am saving up for one or two of you pistols. Keep up the good work. GT

      • Nicks87

        I’ve been drooling over their Browning Hi-Powers for awhile… Might have to sell a couple toys and buy one.

        • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

          They do look great don’t they

    • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      Are Nighthawk slides/frames made from castings or forged steel?

      • Doom

        Im not an expert but from the looks of it, cast, I say that based on how the steel looks grainy along the crack as well as the crack being almost perfectly down the center top and bottom. The same places a seam from the mold would be located on a slide.

        • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

          My neighbor is a blacksmith and that is his guess too

    • L Cavendish

      What deals do you offer…if any…for military and LEOs and first responders ?

    • Richard Chelvan

      That is excellent service right there! If i could afford one I’d get one!

    • J S

      Send him a new pair of undies also. Pretty sure those were ruined also. mine would have been.
      Great customer support guys. I never considered Nighthawk guns in the past. I will now.

  • Hans

    Split right down the cast line…seen this a bunch in bad castings.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      Except those are forgings and not cast. Nighthawk doesn’t use castings for their frames or slides.

      • Hans

        That’s what I thought…

    • Kivaari

      Is the bar stock forged?

      • Hans

        Technically speaking yes, even bar stock is cast in the beginning of its life. But is further processed to remove voids.

        Generally when we talk about casting vs forgings we’re referring to the process at a certain step of the product life. Castings are done using some sort of a mold with liquid metal, then machined into shape once cooled.

        Whereas the forgings are hammered into a general shape using a hammer forge from an already formed piece of stock; then further machined into the final shape. The hammering squeezes the metal into shape. Resulting in a stronger grain structure free of air pockets or voids.

        I’ve seen failures in both manufacturing methods, but castings are more sensitive to metal purity. If foreign material is introduced in the liquid metal it can cause weakness in the grain structure. Often times splitting at the weakest point, or along the seam of the cast.

        None the less, ammo could be the culprit too, but jumping to the conclusion without inspecting the frame metallurgy is a good way to not find the root cause.

  • bull


    • Scott Esse

      under loaded round little or no powder. in this instance it had enough power to eject the case and feed the next round OR the shooter manually operated the firearm to eject the case, without checking for a stuck projectile, and it was the subsequent full power round that did the damage by splitting the barrel and the slide and dust shield. Personally I would comment with something about idots and firearms ot mixing…

  • Frank

    Slide looks like a cast POS.

    Is Nighthawk subcontracting to Taurus?

  • Rodford Smith

    The warhead must have gone off in the chamber. :-^)

  • Based on what the customer had told us last night we agreed to replace the pistol at no charge. The pistol was given to him by his wife for his birthday, he loved the pistol and told us it was the most accurate pistol he had. Mark Stone, owner of Nighthawk, questioned him about the possibly of a squib load or an over charge and he told us to his knowledge everything was normal. We believe based on his knowledge he told us the truth. Mark told him that we could not explain what happened based on his answer. We would not disassemble his pistol, we would use it for a display piece.

    This morning pictures and blog content started appearing online and at that point we decided to investigate further due to the photos on the blog showing pictures of the pistol in a different condition than we received. Our customer did not put these pictures online. The pistol that we received had been pried and beat open. The owner of the pistol said a gunsmith had done so to remove the spent case. We did not receive the spent case when the pistol was returned.

    When we broke the pistol down and examined the barrel, we saw clear evidence that a squib load caused the damage. We have taken numerous photos to document these findings.

    Last night we wanted to give the customer a response as soon as possible. Mark agreed at that time to replace his pistol free of charge and we will stand by our word, but we wanted to present these facts.

    Here are the pictures.

    • Nicholas C

      I hope I didn’t ruin things for the owner. Kudos to you guys for standing behind your product!!!
      Thank you so much for following up and posting pics of the barrel.

    • I think I would be passing the information about the squib load to Armscor! It seems the fault rest with them.

      • Nicholas C

        Armscor already emailed me asking for lot numbers. Unfortunately all the information that I have is already in this article.

    • Spencerhut

      So the customer is an idiot or a lair. And yet again good people, in this case Nighthawk, have to pay for another persons stupidity.
      Was the squib Armscor’s fault? Maybe. Where is the empty case? How about the rest of the box of ammo? Was it sent back to Armscor for evaluation?

      If you can’t tell when you have a squib, this sort of thing can and will happen. The squib was not Nighthawks fault and for them to replace a gun some fool grenaded is just above and beyond PR at this point, good for them, they are the better man in this case. If the guy who blew it up had a an ounce of self respect he would offer to pay for some portion of the replacement up to, and if it was me, the entire full cost. Own your mistake, don’t force it off on Nighthawk.

      • cageordie

        If he was firing factory Armscor ammo then how’s that make him an idiot or a liar? People like you, always bravely shooting off their mouth with no thought and the safety of being hard to locate and not worth confronting. Try pretending you are talking to a real person face to face when you make your inflammatory statements. Can you really tell the difference between a 180gr round with 10gr of powder or 3gr? Can you tell it was a squib as it explodes in your hand? I wish I was as clever as you!

        • Spencerhut

          Yes, I know what a squib is. And I stand by my statement. The owner is a low life for making Nighthawk pay for his stupidity.

          • cageordie

            And you are a typical low life Internet troll. You ascribe your own morality to others and thereby assume the worst of everyone. He was foolish not to return the pistol in the condition it was photographed, but until there is evidence that he was shooting hand loads then you have no reason to be calling names. Grow up and act like a man.

    • Mark Are Reynolds Ⓥ

      My first thought from the first pictures was squib load. It had all the markings. If you look at squib load KB’s this one showed as a classic example. And the 10mm round is NOT one I’d want to have a squib load with, and then pull the trigger on a good round.

    • Frank Grimes

      Armscor is definitely to blame considering it was there ammo and it appears Nighthawk is outsourcing junk cast slides and frames from Armscor.

  • GreenMarine

    Armscor ammo in a Nighthawk is a bit like running your R8 on Bubba’s drip gas.

  • Twilight sparkle

    Someome obviously doesn’t know how to hand load properly

  • Scott Esse

    IF the round detonated the casing or part of it would have remained in the split chamber, this (barrel damage) is the result of an obstructed barrel. Were this a typical 1911 the wtf factor would come to mind with the slide and frame damage (dust shield) but with the power of the 10mm in mind, this damaged handgun is worth its weight in silver (not quite gold) for the advertising value alone. It will serve as graphic training material in print and be worth more than the cost of the replacement. Add to that, magnafluxing and x-ray analysis of the three main components will make excellent tools for future improvements.
    We need to keep in mind that no matter how well made it is, any magnum class caliber hand gun is always just inches from blowing apart in our hands, be it from a bad handload, a bad factory load, a plugged barrel due to a hunting incident or even inclement weather causing ice to form in the barrel… We always have to keep Murphy’s law in mind.

    • Stephen Paraski

      Should the shooter had noticed that what he was aiming at did not have a impact?

  • Scott Esse

    People discussing and postulating on this split barrel and slide as well as the dust cover need to step back and follow the sequence of events. First the shooter fired a squib. ( under load with little to no powder) when the case didnt eject they manually operated the action feeding the second full round, without checking for an obstructed barrel. since the barrel had a blockage when the fullpower round went off the barrel split. this wedged in the opening of the slide and split the slide open as the slide was moving back. Since this angled the sides of the slide downward (at this point this is educated guess since I dont have the pieces in hand to prove from this point forward) as the slide came forward it split the dust cover. Ive seen similar damage before, but never the dust cover.

  • guest

    Well, it looks like the shooter was…
    *puts on sunglasses*
    a crack shot!


  • kktex12

    Looks like he got a hot load or there was a flaw in the barrel.

  • Kivaari

    Tell that to the people at Detonics that gave me a run down on how they loved going to stainless over carbon steel.
    I’ve been in the gun business for a long time. I know that when I wore out S&W M66 revolvers in under 2500 of mostly .38 WC, that the replacement parts were made with plated carbon steel.
    Anyone that thinks the AMT 1911 wore out due to failure of carbon springs, needs to do more research. AMT made junk, using poor grade metals.

  • Kivaari

    As a former armorer myself, I can assure you that AMT stainless steel was of inferior quality. When the hammers and sears break during short term use, and are replaced with Colt carbon steel parts which broke as well, then there are issues. When AMT 22 Magnum pistols spent more time in for repair, it isn’t due to using the best quality steel no design staff.
    As you should know various stainless steel is very difficult to machine. Doing it correctly takes time and CAN result in a good weapon.
    Detonics failed for a few reasons. Some were simply air pockets in the casting that went undetected until the part failed.
    Ask people that run shooting schools about what guns work and what guns don’t work. You will hear lots of stories about various M1911 designs simply falling apart. It isn’t do to good materials and fine craftsmanship.
    By the way, Gold that isn’t alloyed is a valuable material but it is an inferior metal that is too soft. If all you want are gold ingots for its value, that’s one thing. If you want it to perform where physical contact causes deformation and loss of material, perhaps going for 14K is better.

  • Kivaari

    Colt Industries accounted for 95% of Colt business earnings. Colt Firearms (before Colt Defense) was only 5% of the operation. Obviously, you didn’t know that part of the history. Obviously you don’t know how much of the industry uses each others abilities. Like having S&W slides made in South Africa or Brazil. Or Colt having Astra make guns for them. Taurus makes parts for a wide range of industries. Or that many of the M1911 sellers are buying parts made in the Philippines, Brazil or Turkey. Or that Walther hasn’t made a PP series pistol in Germany since WW2, when France took the Walther machinery as war reparations. Tell, me again why I think there are various kinds of stainless steel and methods of production that include methods you are unaware of.

  • Leigh Rich

    OMG…what a poor arms manufacturer.

  • Lord Humongous

    Oh dear.

  • Patrick Murphy

    All this from what was most likely a bad round?I have never seen anything like this before and just takes you back knowing the owner was not hurt.WOW!

  • GOT12

    the most remarkable & amazing part “unable to find any remnants of the round detonated”

    reloading for accuracy?

    • Nigel Tolley

      Except a gunsmith hammered the remains out, so yeah…

      • GOT12

        sarcasm or is there more to this story?

  • Tony

    It looks like there is a bulge in the barrel about two inches back from the muzzle…..indicative of a squib.

  • Jonnybees

    I purchased a Dan Wesson Commander Bobtail and p/u on 5/9/16, after lusting almost 2 years.
    Read instructions, cleaned it and drove 1/2 mile to local range 5/16 to fire first 50 ( really 60 I couldn’t help it) rounds as directed. Then took it home and cleaned it and fired next 57 rounds on 5/23. Accurate, beautiful, everything I new it would be. Then fired # 58. It went ‘bang’ just like the others and put a hole in the target like all the others, but case didn’t eject, unlike all the others. However, I had two ends left in magazine and with the ‘bang’ and hole in target…. I never thought…. So I fired #59 …. It went ‘bang’, put a hole in target …. but this time a lot of smoke came out from ejection port, and that was all!! I tried to eject the case but could not budge the slide. So drove home thinking I just needed to dismantle it to clean it and couldn’t remove the spring plug. Took it to my Smith (30 yrs exp.) who hammered the slide until he could get the barrel out and the almost entire barrel was split open, with no apparent damage to slide, frame, or other parts. Then he was able to see the remnants of the squib.
    I was shooting PATRIOT AMMO/LASER SPEC. Had a “guarantee” that if any problem with a cartridge they would replace it with full box of 50 rounds. However i CALLED PATRIOT AMMO REP, “JOHN L.” WHO DID NOT ANSWER. LEFT DETAILED MESSAGE ON 5/16/16EXPLAINING INCIDENT AND IM STILL WAITING TO HEAR FROM HIM. HE MUST STILL BE UNDER HIS DESK!!!! I called CZ/Dan Wesson. They DID NOT OFFER TO REPLACE BARREL GRATIS, BUT ASKED ME TO SEND PARTS IN FOR THEM TO INSPECT AND REPAIR, and we’ll see what the charge will be. ALSO HAPPY TO REPORT NO INJURIES.
    I did notice when I was able to look closely at the target that there were two TEARS vs. ROUND HOLES in the paper.

    • Nigel Tolley

      Absolutely not Dan Wesson’s job to fix that. The ammo guy, yes.
      But also, your slide didn’t cycle. What were you thinking? It’s a FIREARM. Rule 0 of the way it works is, one end open, one end sealed. Checking that is, as you’ve just learned, your job, & no-one else’s.

      • Jonnybees

        Never indicated or thought any differently. Never indicated or thought it was DW’s responsibility to take responsibility for my issues.
        What are you The Blog Straw Boss? I was putting out what I thought was contributing information on this topic, not Judgemental Criticism

  • That’s why I never use adjustable sights.

  • Jim C

    This totally makes my case for carrying a back up gun. When I’m stopped by law enforcement, they look at me in a bad light because I keep more than one gun. They have gone as far as to ask why; “you never know” is the answer.
    If this occurred during a fight for his life, a second gun would have become vital.

  • Patrick Selfridge

    Looks as though the barrel is still intact………

  • Franco

    A non glock kaboom? Imagine that. I’ve shot hundreds of hand loads loaded to max in my 10mm glock. It’s hard to tell but it looks like this is a cast slide. Of course any thing will go with bad ammo.

    • Nigel Tolley

      The idiot shooting it had a bad round that left the bullet in the barrel. Then he cycled it and the next round destroyed the gun.

      • Franco

        Not surprising. You’d think a guy that spent 3k on a handgun would be a little more alert. Honestly I think the largest majority of kabooms, glock or not are ammo or user error.

  • Bob

    customer service my butt they are in damage control to save their business and reputation

    • R H

      Not sure if you read below, but the result of the investigation was that it was caused by a squib load. Instead of giving the customer the run around and making him wait months for a decision, the owner of the company stepped up and promised to replace the gun free of charge.

      • Cottersay

        Most 1911’s that get fired again with a bullet lodged in the barrel only bulge or crack the barrel (sometimes along with some slide damage). This particular squib mishap completely annihilated a $2,500 pistol. Hmmmm…

        • R H

          That’s also a 45 acp, and the pistol in question was a 10mm. Max pressures for 10mm are almost twice what it is for 45. I doubt that Armscor ammo was loaded super hot, but it’s still probably got a little umph behind it.

          • Cottersay


  • BigFED

    An experienced shooter should recognize a “squib” load almost immediately. There are some instances where that may not be true, like a rapid fire course. But, there ARE situations where “STUPID” rules!!!

    Shooter, a retired Deputy Sheriff, brought his nephew to our range to teach him “the basics”. (FYI, nephew as over 21, no legal issues about age.) The man asks for a box of nines. We take care of the process, (range fees, reading the range rules, yada, yada! They go out on the range and the lanes we assigned. No problem until the nephew asked one of us to look at the gun, since it was shooting all over the target. I went out and very quickly found the problem. Remember that box on nines? Remember the deputy sheriff? Remember retired? The deputy was using his “service weapon”, a Glock 22! Nines don’t work well in a .40!!! They work, but not well! He then buys a box of .40SW. I collect every round of 9mm I can find because I KNOW what can happen! They commence to return to shooting and no sooner had I got back to the counter than the nephew came in and said “their gun exploded”!!! What I didn’t know was that “Uncle” had a spare mag in his pocket that he had filled with a couple of 9mm. Somehow, he managed to fire a couple of those 9mm before he had a failure to fire which he “solved” by cycling the slide that NOW had .40SW ammo in it. He now had a Glock 22 loaded with .40SW ammo, but there was a 9mm round just laying in the barrel!!! KABOOM!!! they dropped the gun and came and got me. The slice was about 2/3d closed and locked solid. I could see the chamber was empty. I took the mag out which had all .40SW ammo. I lookd down the barrel (no safety issue since it was locked solid) and I saw the nose of a 9mm round about a inch from the muzzle. I took it back to my shop, gave the slide a hard whack on the rear and it went forward. I managed to get the gun apart normally. The barrel was split about two inches from the muzzle and jammed in the slide, but otherwise everything else was OK. I got the barrel out the slide and everything else measured OK. At last word I received, he bought a new barrel and paid for a lesson on the dangers of NOT knowing what caliber you’re dealing with and toe keep EVERYTHING separate!

    • Michael Lubrecht

      A few years ago I was shooting a Glock 20 in IPSC competition, so I talked my way into a Glock armorer’s course. A few matches later, a 9mm Glock shooter asked me to look at his pistol, “It just locked up for some reason.”

      Slide as also about 2/3 of the way back. I managed to push it back into position with a piece of wood, then we got it apart. Barrel was bulged, but not terribly so. No other damage. With a piece of emery cloth he probably could have worked the bulge down and reused the barrel! However, I recommended that he buy a new barrel for it – which he later did and continued to use the pistol.

  • David169

    I spent 28 years as a powderman in mining, construction and structural demolition. I also have a strong background (3.5 years) in chemistry. Besides understanding and working with explosives I have been a reloader using common propellants for 61 years now. Most pistol/shotgun powders are primarily nitrocellulose but contain from a few percent to up to 20+% nitroglycerin which is an explosive or propellant with a bad attitude. NG is always mixed with something to allow it to be used with safety. It is used for two reasons. First it is high energy and relatively inexpensive and secondly the NG has a stabilizing effect on the nitrocellulose. The NG loses most of its bad traits when mixed with nitrocellulose. When all things are working properly there is nothing wrong with a NG/NC mix in a propellant. What causes this effect is (for lack of a better word) the powder knocks like a car with bad gasoline. Or said another way as it is burning as a propellant it explodes because the heat and the pressure suddenly spiked high enough to cause a detonation. A sudden high pressure causes the detonation. This is very hard to duplicate and there have been many instances of rifles blown up by greatly reduced charges of slow burning powder after which the remainder of the cartridges were fired without incident. Nighthawk below this comment says they explained what happened. I would like to hear their explanation. Depending upon the density of the powder this phenomenon can spike pressures of up to 3.5 million PSI and pressure wave velocities in excess of 22,000 FPS which is the approximate speed of sound in steel. The damage indicates the the velocity was over the speed of sound in steel but the explosion was small and most likely involved less than the entire charge. Many people do not understand that when the heat and pressure get great enough for the material (steel) to fail it doesn’t matter much whether the steel is 1/8″ or 2 inches thick; the material has failed and the shock wave will crack the steel. That is why the barrel and frame split. A very small but high velocity detonation occurred which spawned a shock wave in excess of the speed of sound in the barrel and frame steel. I would look at the primers in the remaining cartridges because in the volume and remaining space in the 10mm cartridge a magnum large rifle primer could have caused the detonation.

  • Bobby

    I have been a shooter and gunsmith (now retired) for most all of my life….I’ve never seen a 1911 like this. I’ve seen swelled barrels, I’ve seen grips blown off and mags blown out but this is WILD!
    Relieved as can be that the owner/shooter is unharmed! Nighthawk and the folks there are an awesome bunch for taking care of him! That pistol needs to be displayed in a case somewhere so that folks can see it and marvel!

  • Oingo Boingo

    The granular appearance of the fractured slide broken surfaces seems to indicate Investment Casting rather than Billet Forging.
    What ammo ? A light powder load could flash ignite all at once across the horizontal surface of the powder load if that was the case (pun unavoidable) rather than progressively burn a full load back to front. The split chamber and no remnants of the cartridge indicates an explosion rather than controlled ignition.
    That could really ruin your afternoon. The shooter is a lucky man in that he wasn’t injured AND the company is standing up and Doing The Right Thing.
    10mm and 10mm Short (.40 S&W) are better in high quality, extra tough SubGuns, as opposed to Hand Guns…where they are literally A Pain and/or An Annoyance.
    Why do you think that there are so many used ex-Fed Gubbamint.40s on the retail market ?
    No worries; Black Ghetto straw buyers will, and do, scoop them up for their EBT Cash Back financed illegal but unprosecuted, unrecognized, unmentioned Small Business Empowerment.

  • Core

    It appears to have split from the bushing area on the front of the slide. I can’t tell by the pictures but it looks like the barrel is okay? I’m thinking the bushing was too tight on the slide. I think this illustrates why fitting too tightly is not beneficial unless you’re running competitively. I’ve been told by a skilled 1911 smith that proper fitting a 1911 doesn’t necessarily have to be super tight all over like many folks have come to believe. I like the usgi fitting, nice and loose, and reliable.

  • Stephen Paraski

    Love your reply.

  • BigFED

    For those that are blaming a “squib” load, DON”T!!! It isn’t the squib that caused the problem, It was what happened NEXT!!! Yes, the squib set things up for the problem, but had the shooter been paying attention, there were clues that all was NOT right and not to proceed with shooting!

  • Kivaari

    BigFED, As you know from first hands on, the metal alloys used were both “STAINLESS STEEL”. They were quite different. The AMT pistols were obviously “SOFT” alloy. The parts would both flex, eventually take a permanent bend (warp) so the parts would be so far out of alignment that the guns stopped. The internal parts of the 1911 style guns were so soft and/or inadequately heat treated (if at all) that they would break where stretched beyond limits or simply break. Replacing those parts with factory Colt parts did not work, since the pin-holes no longer were aligned properly. The result was a junk gun. Rust was a constant problem. Buying stainless for its non-rusting characteristics, was not a concern of AMT. That is why the people at Detonics told me the average cost for a full-sized AMT was around $85 while the higher grade stainless used by Detonics drove the price per unit to $125. So, is there a difference between stainless steel and stainless steel. You sure now, since you had the guns in hand. For those saying gun makers wont weld up flaws and re-finish the guns, haven’t been around enough guns. Like various steels used, there are gunsmiths and there are gunsmiths. I’ve found that most gunsmiths have the skill of a moderate blacksmith. Send tem off to a M1911 class to build custom .45s, and they sure learn all they need in 5 days. That’s good, since most 1911 owner already know everything about their guns. That’s why one of the most common guns needing repairs are 1911 that the owners were tweaking. Obviously those criticizing my concept of total cost to produce, failed the class on economy of effort and maximizing the value derived from you base stock. I recommend they read Ezell’s “The AK47 Story” where he describes the cost in floor space, raw materials, tailings, and man-hours needed to produce WW2 era SMGs. It’s a good lesson on engineering studies to achieve maximum output at a minimum of input.

  • 10x25mm

    The barrel fracture in the vicinity of the chamber, which was the first fracture in this event, was due to excessive hoop stresses in the barrel steel. Crack propagated forward at high velocity, driven by the mechanical energy released by the fracture process. Fracturing metals release energy like an uncoiling spring. The crack stops propagating when the released energy is no longer sufficient to crack the steel in the path of the crack. A fundamental tenant of fracture mechanics.

    High velocity fracture propagation produces odd fractography which cannot be diagnosed without SEM examination, and certainly cannot be diagnosed from these photographs. Odd fractography of high speed fractures due to metallurgical effect called strain rate hardening. SRH is little known or understood and produces lots of erroneous diagnoses from amateur metallurgists.

    Secondary fracture of slide top due to ‘wood splitter’ effect of barrel fracture. Bear in mind that the barrel OD was much larger – momentarily – during its fracture event than it is now [as shown in the photos] due to the additional elastic strain during event. What you see now is only the plastic strain which occurred during the event. Expansion of barrel chamber was at least twice as large during the event as the expansion you would find from measuring the [no longer stressed] barrel now.

    Secondary fractures of the receiver dust cover and the recoil spring tunnel in the slide were caused by gas pressurization. A perverse tribute to Nighthawk production tolerances. Why we pressure test gas cylinders and piping with water, never gas.

    The running commentary in this thread on stainless steels versus carbon & alloy steels is hogwash. Castings versus forgings versus bar stock discussion equally uninformed. All perform well, but only within their property limitations. All metals fracture or bend when you overload them. Whether they fracture or bend depends upon how extravagant the terminal event is. Something very bad happened here, an event which would have fractured stainless, alloy, or carbon steel. Cast, forged, or machined from bar stock.

    This pistol contained this event admirably. Nighthawk has nothing to apologize for.

    • maodeedee

      What’s hogwash is the idea that we can tell conclusively that the slide was a casting just by looking at the picture.
      Or as you pointed out, “High velocity fracture propagation produces odd fractography which cannot be diagnosed without SEM examination, and certainly cannot be diagnosed from these photographs. Odd fractography of high speed fractures due to metallurgical effect called strain rate hardening?

      • 10x25mm

        Yes. SRH occurs when fracture propagation velocity exceeds maximum feasible velocity of dislocations in a multicrystalline (typical) metal. Dislocations are the basic crystallographic mechanism of plastic deformation in metals. Cracks normally follow path of least resistance which – at low strain rates – is usually along minimum section thicknesses, or least ultimate tensile strength in the case of anisotropic properties.

        Under SRH conditions, cracks mostly follow crystallographic planes with the highest dislocation mobility and/or fewest dislocation mobility impediments. But cracks will ‘jump’ between these preferred paths by a very brittle appearance cleavage segments. This creates a jagged crack path in a multicrystalline metal like steel which can mimic brittle, fatigue, and impact fractographies in no particular logical order at various points along its path. Always good for a spirited discussion among metallurgists.

  • Art Nickel

    I’m impressed that Nighthawk Custom replaced the pistol, even more so since not all the pieces were sent to Nighthawk. When this happens the first thing to do (after whatever medical care is required) is to contact the manufacturer.
    All that said, I’m not surprised that there is evidence of a squib load accident, as the pistol looks like there was some sort of obstruction that caused a severe overpressure in the barrel. Yes, I have seen this type of problem before and my first impression was a squib shot. This is one of the easiest problems you can have with a pistol or a rifle if you reload your own ammo, and one of the most dangerous. Thankfully, they are pretty rare given the number of rounds shot every year.
    One of the things we teach when we teach basic pistol and rifle shooting is if the sound and recoil don’t feel right, STOP and make sure you didn’t have a squib round. I’ve been shooting over 50 years and I have never had a squib shot, personally, except when shooting black powder…yup, I have forgotten to put the powder in a couple times and NO, I didn’t double load the next shot.
    IF you reload with a progressive press, please use a “powder cop” or similar rig that will stop the press if there is an under/over charged case. If you use a single stage press always double check to be sure you have put powder in every case before seating the bullet. Also, if you really want to be 100% sure, weigh all your finished rounds, they should be within 0.2 grains of each other.

  • Tp

    No clue for sure, but on both the barrel & slide, its like a perfect split, more so the 1st half, at 12 o’clock,and 6 o;clock like two halves welded together like how most metal pipe is made.

  • HubbaBubbaD

    If it was a squib, wouldn’t the barrel have ruptured? Doesn’t look like it.

  • Juanito Ibañez, TopCop1988

    “Greg assuaged my concerns and told me his friend received no harm from this accident.”

    Except the laundry bill for dirty skivvies. 🙂

  • L. Roger Rich

    Made by Taurus?

  • kyew

    That slide looks like it’s cast.

  • theescotsman


    • maodeedee

      The only reason the slide split was because the chamber split and I highly doubt that Nighthawk uses cast barrels. Additionally, it’s impossible to do accurate metallurgical analysis by looking at a photograph.

      Any barrel no matter how high quality can burst once pressures exceed 110,000 PSI and all it takes is a double or triple charge of some fast burning powder in a 45 ACP case to do the job.

      And where there is enough force to split the barrel there is enough force to split the slide.

      • theescotsman


        • maodeedee

          The problem wouldn’t have happened if the barrel hadn’t burst no matter if the slide was cast or forged

          • theescotsman


      • theescotsman




    • 10x25mm

      No evidence whatsoever that the slide or barrel of this pistol was cast can be inferred from these photographs. Only valid inference is that the crack in the slide propagated at a very high velocity, probably in the strain rate hardening regime. This would explain the convoluted, jagged crack propagation path.

      Slide could have been cast, forged, or milled from bar stock.

      • theescotsman


        • 10x25mm

          16 – 20 million under my direct control. Can’t be exactly certain with automated investment casting lines.

          • theescotsman


          • 10x25mm

            No excuse is necessary. There is no evident porosity at the front of the slide. You might be interested to know that true porosity rarely occurs in ferrous investment castings because the investment mold is preheated to very high temperatures (proprietary with each caster, but usually over 1,000F) before the pour. This essentially removes gas and moisture within the mold chambers, and within the investment ceramic as well. Very different from the investing casting process for precious metals by jewelers, which is a rather primitive cold investment mold process. Internal defects in ferrous investment castings tend to be incorporated loose investment ceramic and solidification shrinkage, not porosity. Porosity does occur occasionally in sand castings, which I have also made by the millions.

            Again, you (and I) have no reason to even suspect that this slide is an investment casting. Given the economics of low volume manufacturing today, this slide was most likely machined from bar stock. But there is no way to know this from these photographs either.

            Perhaps it will help your understanding of this event if you accept that the fracture in the slide started at the rear, over the barrel chamber, and traveled forward to the muzzle end of the slide. Barrel is not cracked at the muzzle, but it is cracked at the breech end. If you then accept that this event started with something going badly wrong inside the barrel’s chamber, you have to accept that the slide fracture ran forward (not backwards). Any porosity at the front of the slide would be inconsequential.

          • theescotsman



          • 10x25mm

            Bright spots at muzzle end slide fracture terminus are nascent shear lips created by the stress field around crack tip transitioning from tensile to shear as it breaks the steel surface. This is a mechanical effect which is very prominent in ductile materials at low strain rates, where it is responsible for the distinctive ‘cup-cone’ fracture edge appearance. Stress field transitions are less noticeable in high strain rate crack propagation, in hardened steels, due to massive energy release as crack propagates. The crack is outrunning its stress field. You can usually see some evidence of them, however, at high magnifications in SEM images.

  • John

    So do they know for a fact it was Armscor ammo and not his buddy’s attempt at a reload? Where is the missing shell casing and why was it not send back to the factory with the gun?

    Either way, this is a testament to the build strength of Nighthawk firearms. The fact that the shooter walked away unscathed from an exploding 10mm shows the failure points on the gun protected the shooter from harm. This is much like the failure points on SCUBA tanks which are designed to fail at a specific point in the event of an overcharge.

  • Jason Wallentine

    And it sounds like Nighthawk just earned a new customer…some day…

  • Larry Notton

    Now this is just too much excitement, not what you expect from a reputable gunsmith!

  • Sisu

    The fact that this article has not been updated for Nighthawk’s comments and findings (including pics) below is extremely disappointing. The author “waves a red flag” but like too many today has no sense of responsibility to follow through.

    Additionally, comments below discussing the likelihood that the slide was cast, and if so the method of casting should be addressed.

    In a firearm which is held out to be higher quality, custom built, I would have expected most major components to be milled from high grade forged steel blanks versus cast billets. … I would like to hear from others with specific knowledge. … Perhaps Nighthawk themselves.

  • cageordie

    Unless he hand loaded how is he responsible for the bad round? You you sold nitromethane as gasoline and blew up someone’s car who’d fault would that be? Supplying a dangerous round would be Armscor’s fault in this case and they’d be responsible for the damage. If he was indeed shooting factory ammo, as he said, in which case there would be a blown up case somewhere. Try to keep up.

    • Spencerhut

      It was a squib, which he should have noticed, followed by a normal round. That gives big boom and grenades anything.
      Squib could have been the ammo companies fault. We’ll never know since the evidence was trashed.
      You clearly don’t have an understanding of what causes guns to gernade.

      • cageordie

        Ah, you are thinking of the very light load lodging a bullet in the barrel followed by a regular round. Yes, any idiot should notice that. The other claimed method is that a half filled case can allow the powder to ignite faster than expected with a huge pressure spike, but this is harder to prove. The wedged bullet method would fit with their assessment of the damage, so I withdraw my disagreement. You are probably right.

  • Lyle

    Yeah yeah yeah; but did he HIT the TARGET?

    Friend of mine double charged a 40 S&W round (yes it’s possible with the right powder – we tested for that afterwards) and fired it in a Glock. Though separated from the frame, the barrel and slide survived apparently unscathed, but the trigger and mag catch were blown out, and the extractor and several other pieces were missing. The shooter only suffered a nasty blood blister from the escaping gases, and a peppering of tiny wounds from flying brass particles. The frame itself seemed intact also. He got good velocity, he hit his target AND we both walked away so it was a successful shot even if it was very much NOT FUN.

  • Lyle

    Also; if you’re going to show us your targets, please give us the distance at which they were fired. They’re kinda meaningless without that bit of information. If that’s a seven yard target it’s pretty good. If it’s a 25 yard target it’s awesome.

  • Mac

    No room for error when you’re dealing with a high pressure cartridge like the 10mm.
    Looks like a serious overcharge of fast burning powder.
    Gun held up very well.

  • Frank Grimes

    Except for this one though, huh?

    Must’ve slipped through the cracks?

    What frames and slide do you REALLY build off of?

    I’m guess Taurus.

  • chuckles

    The obvious damage is the slide and frame, but the damage has to be from the spit in the chamber. Any cast piece will split with a breech of pressure from the chamber. Finding the problem in the chamber will give the key. If the metal is OK and no cracks existed beforehand, then you probably need to look at ammo next. If the gun has been fired before, then I lean towards ammo again. Stress cracks or metal fatigue could be there, but with regular ammo, that should have already shown up before catastrophic failure with careful cleaning and inspection. Tolerances are so close that any swelling would have jammed the gun before explosion. A double charge, or wrong powder, with pistol powder is bad news. The only other possibility might be a barrel obstruction.